Throughout the 2019 MLS season, Brightspot has partnered with D.C. United to celebrate individuals who are making a positive impact in their community. The D.C. United Community Star presented by Brightspot is presented during halftime of every home match at Audi Field. Read on to learn more about the accomplishments of this season's recipients.
October 6 - Shivani Shah
Shivani Shah, a senior at the University of Maryland, is the founder of Peer to Peer, a mentorship organization which strives to support local refugee students by connecting them with University of Maryland student-mentors. Through after-school and weekend programming, Peer to Peer has helped students improve their academic and social skills while providing a sense of community.
September 22 - Sophia Biabani
As part of Kick Childhood Cancer night, on September 22, D.C. United recognized Sophia Biabani as the Community Star. Sophia led a campaign to support children with cancer and fund cutting-edge research in immune therapies. In hopes that one day cancer can be treated without the need of toxic chemotherapy and radiation, Sophia and a group of cancer survivors launched the #NoMoreChemo campaign and raised tens of thousands of dollars for this cause. She also spent her summer immersed in studying cell therapy, immunology, and pediatric cancer research at Children’s National.
August 21 - Children's National Cellular Therapy Lab
To kick off Childhood Cancer Month, we recognized two members of the Children's National Cellular Therapy Lab. Patrick Hanley, Ph.D, Michael Dunlevy and their team are Children’s Cancer Foundation-funded researchers studying cell therapies for childhood cancer and improving outcomes after stem cell transplantation.
Last night, @DCUnited kicked off #ChildhoodCancerAawareness month a week early! @DrPHanley accepted the D.C. United Community Star award on behalf of @childrenshealth Cellular Therapy Lab! Thank you @DCunited and @CCFtoday ⚽️♥️Keep up the great work team! pic.twitter.com/48kmC5CMOy— Children's National 🏥 (@childrenshealth) August 22, 2019
August 11 - SSG Javier Henriquez
Staff Sergeant Javier Henriquez currently serves as a member of a flight operations team with the Davison Army Airfield. In 2013, Javier deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Since returning home in 2014, he’s been awarded five Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
August 4 - Adam Watkins
Adam is a volunteer with DC Scores and serves as a counselor at the Truesdell Elementary School summer camp
July 12 - Special Olympics DC United Unified Team and New England Revolution Unified Team
Prior to the match on July 12, the Special Olympics DC United Unified Team faced off against the Special Olympics Massachusetts New England Revolution Unified Team. The two teams, comprised of individuals with and without intellectual disabilities were recognized at halftime to celebrate their accomplishments.
June 29 - Dharshan Varia
Dharshan Varia, from Ellicott City, Maryland, is a volunteer with the Metro South Asian Deaf Association. He has implemented key initiatives like a Youth Committee to represent the children of more than 100 deaf adults in Washington, D.C. to promote inclusivity and accessibility.
June 26 - Kalkidan Haile
Kalkidan Haile is a long time participant and volunteer with DC Scores. Kal is a student mentor and is also actively involved in environmental and civil rights issues.
June 1 - Juliana Franco
Juliana Franco is an active volunteer with DC Scores. She was a member of the 2018 Street Child World Cup team representing the United States in Russia
May 29 - Ingrid Melendez
Ingrid Melendez is an active volunteer with DC Scores. Ingrid has served as a camp counselor at DC Scores summer camps for several years.
May 12 - Jessica Amaya-Zuniga
Jessica Amaya-Zuniga, a senior in the top 5% of her class at Bell Multicultural High School, volunteers with Special Olympics, and our D.C. United's Official Community Partner, DC SCORES. She was a member of the 2018 Street Child World Cup team representing the United States in Russia.
May 4 - AJ Hendershot
AJ Hendershot is a student at George Washington University and participates in the Navy ROTC program. AJ has made a commitment to serve both her country and her community through dedicated volunteering at various local charities and projects, including Food for All DC.
April 21 - Zarea Boyde
Zarea Boyde, a senior at Dunbar High School, is a volunteer with DC SCORES, the official community partner of D.C. United. At school, she volunteers as a poetry mentor, offers pro bono artistic services, and excels in the classroom as well! She's also a published author, with an article in the Huffington Post, a poetry slam judge, and a sports manager at William Hall academy.
April 9 - Henry Mader
Henry Mader is a 4.0 student at Blyth Templeton Academy. Henry has spent time studying and playing soccer abroad in Mexico and Argentina. In his free time, Henry volunteers at SWS Elementary School, mentoring and spending time with children who have special needs. He's also a volunteer at DC SCORES, United's Official Community Partner, where he works in the office, at summer camps and referees games.
April 6 - Meg Grieve
Meg Grieve is a volunteer with DC SCORES, the official community partner of D.C. United, and works tirelessly to help kids throughout DC, where she's given over 250 hours of her time, working at camps, events and with students on soccer, poetry and service-learning. On the field, Meg is a 4-year starter in goal, and also plays softball and ultimate frisbee at Washington Latin Public Charter School.
March 16 - Christian Melendez
Christian Melendez first joined DC SCORES in third grade at Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights. Even as he pursues his degree from Montgomery College, Christian continues to mentor DC SCORES poet-athletes each year as a summer camp counselor at Leckie Education Campus, and last year he stepped into a coaching role with the Bruce Monroe Chargers.
March 3 - A’dora Willis
A'dora Willis is a standout alumna of DC SCORES, D.C. United's official community partner. While being a full-time student at Bowie State University, A'dora still finds time to help her mother run a home daycare, volunteer at a kids' martial arts studio, and performs with DC SCORES' all-star poetry group "Our Words Our City". She also recently became a published author with her first children's book, "He and Me".